Couples Therapy Deals With Resentment Leading Marriage Poison
The basis of a good marriage is each person making a constant, conscious effort to build up the self-esteem of their partner. What is the number one thing that gets in the way of building your spouse’s self-esteem? Resentment.
Resentment itself is harmless, especially when you learn not to act on it. But let’s take a look at the ways that resentment can trigger explosive damage in your marriage.
Let’s say you and your spouse have a small problem. You begin to bicker about it, and you find yourself resenting your spouse for disagreeing with you.
Instead of walking away from that unhealthy feeling, you feed into it and what was, at first, a small issue, has now been blown out of proportion.
If this same unhealthy pattern happens with a bigger problem in the relationship, things don’t go from bad to worse—they go from bad to divorce.
Use couples therapy to solve your marriage problems
Acting on resentment is like adding gasoline to a fire. To help solve your marriage problems, you need couples therapy to learn to recognize when resentment is building up within an argument, and then adopt a healthy technique of coping with the feeling so it does not affect your relationship.
Meet Tammy and Jay. They’ve been married for seven years and have a daughter, Amy. The success and happiness of their daughter is at the forefront of both their priorities, and the couple frequently makes sacrifices to ensure their daughter gets the best in life.
Recently, Tammy was given a promotion at work. She’d been working tirelessly to earn a big account at her firm because she knew it’d be more money, and was thrilled when she landed it because it meant a more secure future for her daughter. The day she found out, she couldn’t wait to get home and share the news with her family.
However, when she got home, Jay asked, “Are you sure you can handle all that responsibility?”
Just like that, her elation deflated and she became reserved. Instead of the raucous celebration she’d hoped for, they had a quiet dinner.
On another occasion, Tammy successfully shed six pounds she’d been working to knock off in time for a family vacation. There was a black dress she’d always dreamed of wearing and losing those few pounds meant she now had the confidence to purchase it. But when she donned the dress on a night out during their vacation, Jay simply looked at her and said, “Nice dress.”
Kinds of behavior found in couples therapy
There are two types of behavior going on here. Each one of them is a different expression of resentment. When left unchecked, these behaviors can lead to a lower level of satisfaction within the marriage and, ultimately, relationship issues that require couples therapy.
The two types of behavior we saw above are:
1. Passive destructive response. When Joe asked Tammy if she could handle the responsibility, the words acted as a silent force to destroy Tammy’s self-esteem. This behavior changes the mood of the spouse whom it targets.
2. Average positive response. Jay knew how hard Tammy had worked to drop those few pounds, yet he acknowledged her hard work with a simply, “Nice dress.” There was no passion, energy, or inspiration in this response.
This behavior causes the spouse who’s a target—in this case, Tammy—to stop expressing their hopes, dreams and desires because they feel they’re not supported by their spouse.
The appropriate way to deal with situations like Tammy and Jay came up against are with a third, unique behavior approach: The energetic positive-constructive response.
In this approach, the spouse—in our above example, Jay—would say something like, “You look fantastic! I’ve never been more attracted to you!” or, “I know how hard you worked for that promotion, and finally getting what you deserve must give you such a sense of satisfaction. I’m so proud of you.”
Not only does this response behavior boost your spouse’s mood in the moment, it encourages them to open up to you and share their feelings in the future. By invoking the energetic positive-constructive response, you’ll watch your marriage take a serious, immediate turn for the better.
Light his fire audio program for couples therapy
Do you feel like building self-esteem is not the focal point of your and your spouse’s priorities? If you download the Light His Fire audio program today, we will take you step by step through our proven, researched methods of what to say and how to act when your marriage runs into a problem like this one.
More importantly, we will show you ways to talk to your spouse and position yourself so that they’re always open to positive feedback, support your decisions and help build you up in the relationship.
This one shift will bring you closer to each other. But what is more important is that, through the tools of the trade, you’ll learn how to quash resentment if it’s harming your marriage.
Let’s face it, when resentment shows up, not only does your spouse feel it, but you feel it, and it affects your family, too. Stop that today and watch your relationship soar.
By Dr. Ellen Kreidman, Ph.D
Ellen Kreidman on Google+
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